March, 2014:

Improve Patient Access by Managing Overflow Calls

The centralized call center has become the cornerstone for providing improved access for patients in large, complex healthcare delivery systems.  As more and more provider organizations are placing a greater level of emphasis on the patient experience, savvy Patient Access Managers are looking very closely at their Call Center metrics to ensure that best practices are being utilized. 

A well designed call center can be the catalyst for revenue generation and increased market share.  The data available from your Automated Call Distribution System (ACD) can provide a wealth of opportunity for further improvements in your Call Center.  Patient Access Managers should carefully evaluate call abandonment rates and service levels; the time it takes in seconds for your staff to answer patient calls.  If either of these metrics are too high, you may want to consider an outside vendor to manage your overflow calls. 

At the most fundamental level, patient telephone calls represent revenue to your organization.  Unanswered calls are an enormous frustration to patients.  Due to budgetary constraints, many organizations are unable to staff their call centers to address call volumes at peak periods throughout the day.  As such, call abandonment rates tend to increase at the start of each day; especially Monday mornings, during the noon hour and late in the day when patients are out of work.  Call volumes also tend to increase during these times as patients make repeat calls in an attempt to get through to a patient service representative. 

An overflow vendor can act as an extension of your call center; having access to the same registration and scheduling applications that you are using internally.  A reputable vendor can assign a dedicated team of resources to your call center, assuring that consistent scheduling protocols are met.  Further, with proper vendor relationship management and training, the “overflow” team; can play a valuable part in reducing abandonment rates, reducing call volume and improving overall patient satisfaction.

Consider a vendor that can help you create a positive consumer experience.  Ensure that your vendor is a caring and compassionate partner that supports your organizations’ mission.  Carefully consider a vendor who has extensive experience in the physician access arena. 

Critical to making this decision is ensuring that  your technology, to include your Automated Call Distribution System, call recording capability and call disposition tracking methodologies are available for use by the vendor.  Additionally, select a vendor that understands the constantly changing healthcare environment; one that is committed to a rapid, high quality implementation and a long lasting relationship.  An overflow vendor, if managed properly can be a cost effective solution to a common access problem. MIR_3944-Johanna Epstein

Epic MyChart: Provides Flexibility in Healthcare to Patients & Organizations

MIR_4041-Tpm GantzerAt this point in the evolution of the EMR, patient portals and specifically MyChart is not a foreign term to the healthcare IT world. MyChart was a giant leap forward in giving providers and patients a powerful tool that not only enhanced communication, but took strides in giving the patient an active role in their care. As MyChart matures, this patient portal shifts beyond simply messaging a provider, reviewing test results or obtaining medication refills. Self-scheduling, self-reporting, virtual visits and online bill paying are just a few ways that MyChart provides flexibility in healthcare to patients and organizations alike. Many organizations even while meeting Meaningful Use Stage 1 measures have yet to explore these and other potentially valuable tools.

With Epic’s 2012 and 2014 versions, MyChart continues to cultivate a stronger partnership between provider and patient, encouraging patient participation in their healthcare. An enhanced degree of interaction through your organizations utilization of tools such as questionnaires, custom histories, and flowsheets can facilitate this, allowing patients to actively enter and track data. These same tools also can give your providers a more complete picture of the patient’s history, allow for easier tracking of chronic conditions, and recovery paths.

With Meaningful Use Stage II on the horizon MyChart has improved the ability to achieve published measures mandating that 50% of all unique patients are provided online access to their health information and that 5% of those patients both utilize it and communicate with their provider via secure electronic messaging. The combination of improvements to both the user interface and new sign-up options expand your organizations ability to engage patients.

Other exciting changes that come with Epic’s 2014 version are enhancements to already existing mobile platforms on Apple and Android products. Also integration with Fitbit and Withings, home-monitor  devices, that allow the patient to upload blood pressure, weight, pulse readings and pedometer readings directly to MyChart. Epic also enhanced dashboard reporting and a framework for creating custom metrics to allow your organization more readily available key performance indicators and trends with both your clinical and patient users.

An overview of recent updates to consider for 2014:

Meaningful Use – Stage II

Redesigned User Interface

Self-Signup (Online)

What’s New

Video Visits

Dashboards and Custom Metrics

Home-Monitoring Device Integration

Auto-Wait List for Scheduling



Culbert Celebrates 8 Years at Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel

pic 4 web site              Camden Yards- Company celebration of 8 years

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Culbert had its 2014 annual company meeting with all employees held at The Sheraton Inner Harbor hotel in Maryland February 6th -9th. Culbert  knocked it out of the park at Camden Yards with a private tour and dinner reception at the stadium. 

Culbert employees gathered for 3 days of education, networking and a celebration of the amazing accomplishments made throughout the past year.  Finally we collaborated about our vision for 2014 and beyond.

One of the highlights of the meeting was our keynote speakers, Randy Jones, Health Systems Affair Associate Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer for Ambulatory Care ,UT Southwestern Medical Center and Steve Burr , Senior Vice President, Revenue Cycle,  Carolina’s Healthcare System. Their presentations were both extremely informative and led to some excellent discussion. 



Allscripts v11.4.1 – Data that is Meaningful


Are you aware of the recent enhancements to Allscripts Touchworks EHR v11.4.1 to improve data capture and reporting for Meaningful Use Stage 2?

 These much needed changes will have a significant impact to workflow and aligning build with reporting Meaningful Use Stage 2 for provider attestation.

  Here are few points to take note of:

  •  Receiving real time Point of Care patient recommendations
  •  The ability to produce summary of care documents in a Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (CCDA) to a portal
  •  Clients can set parameters for when the application will release clinical information such as output results which allows parameters to be set.   Patients can now have online access to their clinical information within four (4) business days.
  •  Expanded ability to increase the ease of capturing discrete data regarding patient smoking status’ and history, orders, images, patient education, e-prescription, etc. for the purpose of reporting for MU Stage 2 requirements

In prior versions, we would work with providers and administrators, capturing the correct data about patient care data that we knew would be beneficial for proactively communicating with patients, or monitoring patient care patterns, only to be frustrated when we could not extract  the data  in a meaningful way. While the data was contained within the record, it was not structured in a manner where it could be easily extracted. 

For example, providers would capture immunization information but were not able to report in a way that allowed them to proactively communicate with patients. We felt that if we proactively scheduled pediatric patients for sports physicals, we could better manage our schedules and avoid the historical rush associated with trying to complete applications in time for baseball season registration. The improved capabilities of storing codified data in V11.4.1 enables us to analyze and report on the information that was captured and resolve this historical challenge, as well as meet our MU Stage 2 reporting requirements.

As your organization navigates through the v11.4.1 upgrade, make sure to effectively maximize the new enhancements in the Allscripts software in order to increase physician productivity, improve patient access, meet reporting requirements and overall drive a positive patient experience.




Creating a Single EHR: During a Merger, or Later?

Please read this insightful article authored by Johanna Epstein-VP Management Consulting Culbert Healthcare Epstein